Last week, we hosted a live Q&A with the one and only Jay Baer (leader of Convince & Convert, highly sought-after keynote speaker, author of several best-selling books, and yes, certified barbecue judge). Those 60 minutes were completely jam-packed full of wisdom and actionable advice you won’t want to miss, so hop on over here to check out the full recording when you get the chance.
But for those looking for a quick dose of inspiration, here were some of the questions we received from attendees, along with the expert advice Jay dished out. Enjoy!
RJ: How do we know we’re marketing the right stuff to the right folks? What are the most basic elements we need to know to do excellent audience segmentation?
Jay: This one’s a really perceptive question because a lot of people segment their audience using data points that don’t actually matter.
Do you need to know a subscriber’s gender, for example? For some businesses, sure – if you’re selling jackets, yeah, that’s probably important. But for a lot of B2B businesses, it’s not. Don’t ask for information from your audience unless it allows you to meaningfully alter your content to reflect that data and improve a recipient’s experience with your brand.
That said, here are some “minimum viable” data points to collect...
From a B2B standpoint:
• Location (typically it impacts how leads are proportioned to the sales team)
• Job title
From a B2C standpoint:
One of the greatest examples of segmentation by location I’ve seen in the past was from Scott’s Miracle-Gro. They sent 25 different versions of an email to different segments based on where the recipient was located in the US – because even though I’ve got crabgrass in Indiana, in Nashville, you have a different kind of bad grass. It was very impressive how relevant they were able to keep their messaging based on that single data point.
But overall, here’s a good rule of thumb: You should only be asking for data if you have a schema to do something with that information.
David: Is A/B testing of subject lines really worth it, or is testing content more important?
Jay: It’s definitely worth it, and here’s why: If you don’t optimize your subject lines, you’re actually limiting the number of people who will even see the content of your email, and you’ll be testing a depressed list as a result.
That’s why we always tackle our email testing like this:
1. From name
2. Subject line
3. Day of week
4. Time of day
If you maximize each of these things in order, you have a better chance of reaching more people each step along the way.
The one challenge I do have with testing subject lines in an A/B format is that oftentimes, A/B isn’t enough. If you have two mediocre subject lines – A and B – what will you actually learn from that? You’ll learn that one of these is slightly crappier than the other one, but it won’t do much to inform your strategy moving forward.
So if your list size supports it, I’d recommend A-B-C-D-E subject line testing. And for each of those variations, have them be dramatically different. In a lot of subject line tests I see, A and B are essentially the same thing, and that’s not really going to help you. Yeah, one word may work slightly better than another word, but what do you do with that? More options and larger variation allow you to glean much richer data.
Barbara: I want to better engage with my customers who aren’t responsive, but I feel overwhelmed with all the different ways there seem to be to do that. What should I do to re-engage them?
Jay: This is a fantastic question, especially in an era of declining open rates – we have exactly the same problem at Convince & Convert. So here’s what we’re going to do: We’re launching a win-back campaign where we’ll send an email to people who habitually don't open.
For a win-back campaign, you should use a completely different from name and subject line than you typically do in order to differentiate it from your regular mailings. And just plainly say, “Hey, we noticed that you’re not engaging with our email. Would you like to change how often you get it? Would you like to get something totally different?” Give them some options, and it’ll also help your segmentation.
Number two, now that social media allows you to integrate with email, we’re taking our email lists, sorting out the people who don’t typically open, uploading that list to Facebook or Twitter, and creating ads that only display for that super targeted list. Then we’re able to reach them outside the inbox and say, “Hey, we haven’t seen you in a while. Come back.” Then they click through to a landing page, and it’s the same deal: They’re presented with different options for changing their cadence or alternative content to check out so we can get them back into the fold.
Jenna: I’ve never thought much about email marketing because I personally think people get way too many emails and will probably delete them. I get so many myself, I delete 100+ emails a day. What is a great counter to this objection from me?
Jay: Well first, a stat: the ROI of email is and has been double that of every other digital channel for quite some time.
Secondly, there are only two things that every brand cares about: Email and SEO. Everything else is marginal. So while she’s right – nobody ever wakes up and thinks, “You know what would make this a great day? If I got more email," let’s remember that you have to have an email address to even sign up for a social network. So to think that email doesn’t matter simply doesn’t compute.
At the end of the day, the key for everything (email, television, direct mail, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) is relevancy; relevancy always wins. If you send someone an email that they want, when they want it, they will open it, click on it, and take action – period.
The challenge with email is there’s very little unit cost to send an email, and there’s not much penalty that comes with sending irrelevant email, other than a program that doesn’t perform. So there’s no reason for brands to keep themselves from hitting “send” on something no one’s realistically going to be interested in.
Recently, I had a fantastic shopping experience with a brand called Duluth Trading Company. But then they started sending me email every single day, and all those good feelings went out the window. This idea that just because you take interest once means you’re always interested in everything a brand has to say is a fallacy.
If you want email to work, it’s not about sending more or less, it’s about sending email people actually care about and not inundating them with irrelevant messaging.
Dara: We don’t have anyone assigned to social media engagement – is it better to post regularly to stay on our followers’ radar or only post when something new/big/fun is going on?
Jay: You could replace social with email and ask the same question – it’s the same decision.
Without knowing more about what you’re trying to send, I would say that you should always send less, but send better. Scott Stratten talks sometimes about how every relationship you have with a company has a meter. Every time you send something they like, the meter moves in a positive direction. But every time you send something they don’t, it goes in the opposite direction, and it’s the sum of those meter-moving experiences that makes up your overall sentiment about the brand.
That being said, you should probably focus on things that are worthy of attention. Of course, what’s good/interesting/fun can vary enormously. Things that are worthy of attention aren’t necessarily cool things going on at your company: It’s about utility and providing value to your audience. Always give them value, and they’ll be happy and excited to hear what you have to say no matter how often you say it.
Can’t get enough of Jay’s expert advice? Watch the full recording of our live Q&A here.
About the Author
McKenzie Gregory is a content writer on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.Follow on Twitter More Content by McKenzie Gregory